You could hear it from down the street, the way the music spilled from the door and into the street every time another person stepped into the building. The Cocktail Experience was calling out to every passerby, the setting was warm and inviting and heavenly with soft purple lighting that beckoned you in. So in we went.

We were greeted warmly by our hosts and given poker chips and a playing card which we would later exchange for magically concocted drinks. The bars present came from everywhere imaginable, from restaurants across the city and standalone favourite bars we love on nights out. Each bar had chosen a spirit to work with and designed a concept and drink around it. They ranged from Day of the Dead skulls to smoking blue glasses, and every colour in between was present. After climbing the stairs up to mezzanine level with our chips in hand, the warmth of the crowd hit us like a bus. Everyone was shedding coats and immersing themselves in the thriving bar atmosphere around us, and then it was easy to forget that it was a chilly October night outside. Bartenders and bar owners alike were all shouting about their chosen cocktails and spirits and who could blame them?

The lightest drink of the evening was a delightful watermelon tipple from the Alchemist, which brought together watermelon and Bombay Sapphire. The balance was light and fresh, which made it a perfect warm up for later drinks that packed one hell of a punch!

Some had opted to go for sweet drinks that evoked childhood memories, like Vice and Virtue’s marshmallow and strawberry cocktail which sold out in than 3 hours! Jake’s Bar opted for Percy Pig infused Grey Goose which was beautiful to look at. A hint more Percy Pig flavour wouldn’t have hurt, but who wouldn’t love more Percy Pigs?? Neighbourhood’s Tanqueray based drink similarly came garnished with gummy flamingoes, and debates raged about whether it should there and then, or whether it should be saved for the next day. The only agreement we could come to was that the drink was delicious!

It wasn’t all about incredibly sweet cocktails though! Bar Soba had teamed up Stoli Vodka to bring us a Madame Butterfly cocktail, which brought together vodka infused with Kaffir lime, hibiscus syrup and coconut water. It was a brilliant balance between the sweetness of a cocktail and the freshness of a Thai green curry. It may sound weird, but it was possibly the favourite cocktail of the night.

Somewhere in the middle of the flavour spectrum was Tattu’s drink, which playfully placed sweet elements against savoury notes. They then topped it off with a small amount of smoking dry ice which drew eyes as you walked through the crowd. It wasn’t our favourite drink of the night, but its allure was undeniable.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try some of the drinks, so we can’t report to you on those,  but given the calibre of the bars present, we’re sure they were worth a sip or three! The whole night was a fun-filled experience with laughter and music bouncing off of the walls. Until the next Cocktail Experience, we’ll have to settle for walking around to our favourite bars again. It’s definitely worth the effort.

By Parker, Restaurants of Leeds Share this story